15 January 2020

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENTS ON THE TESCO AND HOMEBASE SITES IN OSTERLEY

Summary

Major redevelopments are planned for the current Tesco and Homebase sites on Syon Lane.  OWGRA will be working on behalf of the local community for developments that respect the character of the area and are not excessive. 

Details of the Development

We have seen a number of developments in Osterley & Spring Groove ward in the last few years (built, approved or still in the planning stages, eg Nishkam, Gillette South, Adini, Brentford FC Training  Ground, Osterley station) and we had been anticipating that something might finally happen to the Gillette building, which has been used mainly as a film set in recent times.  So it came as quite a shock when OWGRA was informed by Tesco on 26 April 2019 that Tesco was planning on moving to the Homebase site at Gillette Corner, and a housing development would be built on the current Tesco site.  The company behind the scheme is the large property developer, Berkeley Homes, which has built a number of developments nearby (Fitzroy Gate in Isleworth and Dickens Yard in Ealing).  OWGRA immediately sent a long list of questions to Tesco but there was no response.

In the summer 2019, the first details began to emerge from documents submitted by the developer to the Council (Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Reports).  Homebase was to be demolished, a new Tesco built on that site with 400-500 flats on top, and 1650-1800 residential units built on the current Tesco site.  There would be 2 storeys of parking above the new Tesco at Gillette Corner, but no petrol station, but the current Tesco petrol station would operate for another 6-7 years. 

The diagram above, from the developer, is an artist’s impression of initial ideas for the development.

The OWGRA Committee had its first meeting with the developer, St Edward (a subsidiary of Berkeley Homes), on 24 Sept 2019, and the developer has been engaging with the local community over the last few months.

St Edward organised two exhibitions with some general information on the proposals (at Marlborough School on 3 Oct and Nishkam School on 8 Oct) and opened a consultation centre in a portacabin in the Tesco car park which was open on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.  Local residents could post their responses to the proposals via a survey website and Facebook.  OWGRA was quite critical of the questions in the survey.  St Edward then organised two ‘Walk & Talk’ sessions (19 & 22 Nov) for the local community, involving walking round the area, with residents pointing out positive points (eg Gillette building, green spaces) and the negative aspects (traffic, dangerous junction at Gillette Corner, poor state of the parade of shops on Syon Lane at Gillette Corner).  They also set up a Community Liaison Group (CLG) involving some local residents and representatives from local businesses and organisations, and have held a number of meetings to discuss issues like transport and the local environment).

Timings

It is estimated that the whole development will take 8-10 years from start to finish so we can expect it to be completed by 2030.

The next set of proposals and designs for the two sites are expected early in 2020 and will be shown to local residents at public exhibitions.  There are two different architects for the two sites, Patel Taylor for Homebase, and JTP for the residential development on the current Tesco site.  We are pleased that JTP have been chosen (two members of OWGRA were involved in the choice of architect for this site), as JTP were the architects for the attractive residential development on the Campion site on Thornbury Road.

Planning applications for both sites are expected to be submitted in late spring/early summer 2020, and the local community will be consulted and have time to respond.  It is expected that these planning applications will go to the Hounslow Planning Committee in late autumn/early winter 2020. 

OWGRA Involvement

OWGRA and Ward Councillor & Mayor of Hounslow, Tony Louki, held a closed public meeting for the local community on 20 Nov to provide an update on the project and set up a Residents’ Action Group that will work on the project on behalf of the local community.   This was a very successful meeting and was attended by well over 100 local residents.

The Residents’ Action Group met before Christmas and will be meeting regularly.  We have an excellent mix of skills which will allow us to respond on a factual and thorough basis to whatever proposals come forward from the developers.  If you think you can contribute to the work of this group, please contact us via info@owgra.org.uk.

Key Issues

The most important aspects that concern us at this stage are:

  • The height, massing and density of any proposed development
    The scale of the proposed development is large by any standards, with an initial projection of 1650 homes on the current Tesco site, and 500 homes above a new Tesco store at the Homebase site.
    While we understand that there is pressure on London councils to increase housing density we question the appropriateness of the sharp contrast this would make with housing in the area.

The Council’s Local Plan specified an acceptable lower limit for housing on each site as follows:
- Tesco site (350 residential units plus 780 sq m of retail space)
- Homebase site (340 residential units plus 2750 sq m of retail space).
Buildings of up to 16-storeys , proposed on both sites, would be in marked contrast to the surrounding residential areas and would substantially change the context for the Gillette Tower (Grade II listed).

  • The types of housing that will be proposed as we need family-sized homes rather than studio, 1 or 2-bedroom flats. The space standards set by the London Plan are widely recognised as inadequate and even the London Mayor asks developers to exceed them.

  • Delivery of infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with any development as the local infrastructure is already stretched eg public transport, health centres, play areas/facilities for children.

  • Traffic - Gillette Corner is already at or over capacity and is an unsafe junction, so a new development cannot be feasible without major reconfiguration of Gillette Corner

  • Public Transport – the area is not very well served by public transport (H91 and H28 buses, and Syon Lane station) and the H91 and train service are already very full at peak hours.

  • Pollution - pollution levels are already high in that area and frequently exceed legal limits.

  • Construction should be environmentally friendly and use sustainable materials.

  • Zero carbon emissions by 2050 – The Council has recognised that we now have a “Climate Emergency”. We will insist that this is more than just words and will want to see what it means in terms of the future of this development.

 

The Planning Process

Many residents, writing on the developer’s Facebook page, have made it clear that they do not want these developments. We understand their concerns but believe such outright opposition would stand no chance of success and therefore would leave us without influence.  There is a need for housing and that is dictated by government and the Mayor of London.  The best that we can do is to work with the developer, as far as we can, and to call on the Council to oppose proposals against which there are good planning arguments. We think that is the best strategy to work for a development that respects the character of the area and is not excessive.  We know that any development like this close to the Grade II listed Gillette building has to respect the character of that building. In our responses to planning applications we need to use valid arguments expressed in planning terms (so saying that ‘I don’t like it’, or that ‘it is too big’ are not valid arguments). 

OWGRA have had some success in recent years eg the Campion House development on Thornbury Road started out as a proposal for 340 homes but ended up as 82 homes due to the hard work of local residents objecting on planning grounds.  The Access Storage building approved for the old Shell garage site at Gillette Corner started out as a 14-storey building but as a result of OWGRA’s hard work, has been approved as a stepped 4-6 storey building.

 

contact

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